Mapping a Path to the Stars

Project Voyager

Project Voyager is about mapping a path to the stars. Not tomorrow, not in a decade, but today.

In essence, the project involves the creation of a mission planning software system, to enable interplanetary and interstellar trajectory planning. This program will enable scientists, engineers, and enthusiasts from Icarus and other space organizations to accurately plan missions not only to bodies in our solar system, but to the known bodies in other star systems as well. We are building the program to be extendable, so that every new discovery (whether an asteroid, dwarf planet, or exoplanet) can be added to the system and used to plan more accurate missions. As our knowledge of the universe around us expands, so will our map.

We are planning the software to be divided into two distinct parts. The first is the mission planning stage. Here, we will have a graphical interface that allows the user to visually travel around the entire mapped region of space. In this component all of the bodies will be on ‘rails’ in their respective predicted orbits. The user should be able to manipulate their vessel’s trajectory in real time (using patched conics), and produce a relatively accurate trajectory to their chosen destination. After this is done, the second part of the software will come online. All force vectors from the earlier planning stage are logged, and the start time determined. Starting from this data, a full gravitational simulator is run to determine a trajectory more accurate than that provided by the PCA. Once this has been determined, the map will overlay the two trajectories, and switch back into real-time mode, allowing the user to iteratively design their mission plan.

We are currently based in Toronto Canada, and have a team of nearly twenty. Most are undergraduate, or graduate engineering students from the University of Toronto, and a few are hackers and coders who have shown a great deal of enthusiasm for the project. The team is divided into programmers, researchers, and physicists, and all working together toward making this Project a reality. We have just begun the software, and we look forward to sharing our work with the world.